The Mystery (?) of Juliette Commagere

For someone who’s not exactly a household name, Juliette Commagere has a resume that is relatively mind-blowing.  The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has played with Maynard James Keenan’s Puscifer, The...

For someone who’s not exactly a household name, Juliette Commagere has a resume that is relatively mind-blowing.  The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has played with Maynard James Keenan’s Puscifer, The Bird and the Bee, Nick Lowe, Linda Perry, Liz Phair, and Ry Cooder (whose son, Joachim, is Juliette’s husband and partner in both music and life).  She’s also shared stages with the likes of Air and The Foo Fighters.  This September she released her third solo LP, Human, on Aeronaut Records.  The synth-heavy (but still singer/songwriter leaning) album is reminiscent of a space-age Aimee Mann or Bjork at her most restrained.  It just might be the definition of “postmodernly mystical.”  Although her immediate future endeavors could be considered “bite-sized,” with an EP expected to drop before the year’s end and a December 18th date at Bootleg Bar in LA, in a recent chat, she revealed to me that her plans for the future are actually quite epic.

Izzy Cihak: I have to admit, there’s not a lot of information on what you’ve been up to in recent years (even to us “music critics”).  Is there anything you think is especially important to know about you, or do you prefer to remain mysterious?

Juliette Commagere: I really like the idea of mystery, and I feel like it’s underappreciated these days. I remember when I was younger, wondering what my idols were doing at that very moment and imagining it must be something extraordinary. And now you can just find out by looking on Twitter or Instagram. It takes all the fantasy away. That said, I don’t know if I’m the one to bring it back. So I guess I’d like people to know that at any given moment I’m doing something extraordinary.

IC: You recently released Human.  How do you feel the album compares to previous releases?

JC: While I was recording it I kept telling everyone I was making a pop record. I thought every song was so catchy. Of course, now when I say that people look at me like I’m crazy. So that goes to show you I have no idea what’s going on. Human is probably more electronic than my previous releases. I experimented with making beats on an MPC and there are less guitars and strings and horns than I’ve used in the past.

IC: What were the album’s biggest influences?

JC: I try to not have a direction or influences when I start writing because it messes me up. I like to just let things unfold naturally. But my reggae influences are always there. People ask me if “Vampire” was influenced by Twilight. I have not seen those movies, so no; I was actually referencing the “Vampire” they’re always talking about in reggae. Although I think in reggae they may be referring to their white oppressors. If someone could clarify this for me, I would be very grateful. I also think DePalma is always sneaking his way into my music as well.


IC: Do you have a favorite song on Human, or one which most hints at where your future sounds may be heading?  I’m really into “Hold On.”

JC: I’m so glad you like that song! It’s one of my favorites, too. My ultimate favorite is probably “Flight.” It was the last song I wrote for the record and I wrote it very quickly. I’ve heard Nick Lowe refer to “the bloke” as the guy who visits you and moves through you and allows you to write a song with such ease that it feels magical and you wonder where it came from. I remember thinking the bloke was visiting me for that song.

IC: You’ve collaborated and played with a lot of really noteworthy musicians in your career.  Is there anyone that you feel like you had an especially great rapport with, or just an especially fun time working with?

JC: Working with Maynard James Keenan was pretty special. I was afraid of him at first, but he’s really just a teddy bear. I truly admire him and would like to be just like him one day. He let me stay on his vineyard in Arizona to write some songs, and looking out over his vineyard, in this spectacular setting, where he spends most of his time, I began to think about the passion with which he creates everything, from his wine to his music. He could just sit back in his mansion in Hollywood, but instead he pushes himself into new territories, is always himself, and rejects all the bullshit.

IC: For that matter, is there anyone you dream of one day collaborating with?

JC: Kitaro. Kitaro, are you out there??? Can you hear me????

IC: What do you have planned for the future?

JC: Hopefully touring as much as possible and I’m gonna put out an EP of some new songs I’ve been working on in time for Christmas! I’m also working on directing some music videos for myself and some friends, I’m writing a TV show pilot, and I’m trying to learn how to sew for real, instead of the haphazard way I do it now. Oh yeah–and I want to do a Scandanavian trip and see the northern lights while being pulled by sled dogs before the year is over.

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.